Monday, November 23, 2015

Feeling all refreshed and stuff...

Hey guys, I'm on my way to work so this will be quick...  Adrain and I just returned from four days in the beautiful mountains of Whistler, B.C. and now we're feeling all refreshed and stuff.  It was the loveliest 20th anniversary getaway and our kids did so great with their Auntie.  I think they had as much fun as we did, and we even came home to a beautifully cleaned home with laundry going!  Those kids certainly earned some brownie points with their parents!!  The above photos are from our current local beauty, taken a week ago, and below are the photos of our trip which pretty much fed every part of my heart. 

Quality time with my best friend, an eight mile hike in gorgeousness, plenty of coffee shop trips and dining, movie watching, champagne in front of a fireplace, good conversation, laughter, spa treatments, good chocolates, crunching through snow and dining out. It was pretty much the perfect way to ring in the last twenty years!!

 And now, we're feeling ready for Thanksgiving and I'm working on a pretty table (this is the general idea, above) and I'll be sure to share more once the day is over.  I do love Thanksgiving!

Also, my SHOP IS OPEN!!  Just for this week, so if you've been eyeing a print for yourself or a gift, now is the time.  I close it down on Sunday night.  I've got the same flat shipping rate so it doesn't matter how many you buy, you'll only pay one shipping fee, and the paper is silky and thick and lovely.  Four new Christmas prints are also in stock, along with all the faves and past prints! 

(Click here to shop)
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Twenty years of something.


All I know about twenty is that when I was twenty, I knew next to nothing.

I got married right after I turned twenty and I thought navy, forest green and burgundy were killer,  which basically tells you all you need to know about my young, twenty-year-old self.

I thought that marriage was going to be a cake-walk and I couldn't imagine knowing more about my new husband than I had already uncovered in our two years of dating, through the various seasons of high school, graduating and eventual long-distance college life. 

Well what can I say?  My entire house was bedecked in navy, forest green and burgundy.

I have shared a lot of "anniversary type" posts over the eight years I've been blogging.  They all kind of run along the same lines.  I loved him then, I love him even more now and I can't believe how quickly those long years went by! Or something like that. (It makes some of you sick.  I care not.) (ha!)

When Adrain and I got married, we were so young, and so broke that our wedding photographer was paid to come, but then we couldn't afford any of the photos! It makes me laugh now.  We saved up and purchased a few but they weren't very good, and then his business failed and any other photos that we might have purchased were lost to us.

Now all one has to do, is search wedding photos on Pinterest and be blown away by the creativity.  There was no Pinterest, when we got married. There was only navy, forest green and burgundy.



The other day, I got to thinking about how we never got any pretty wedding ring photos.  I always kind of liked those.  I had an idea.... I made Adrain take his ring off and then I put them in our bedroom window sill and took a couple of simple shots of them, enlarged them at Costco, and plopped them into frames.

Here are our rings, twenty years later.  I love that they are scratched and banged up just a bit, rather than pristine and polished and brand new.  So much more real.  Life's scratches and bangs are what give our relationships character.  Those scratches are where God shines His light into our imperfect dealings with each other, and make us stronger and better for His sake as we change and attempt to be more like Him.  I love everything about that.  Life changes us sometimes and reshapes us. 

As for my guy... He is the guy that makes me promises.  And then keeps them all.
He is the guy that talks me down from all my emotional  moments.  Sometimes he validates me and tells me that I'm right to have been hurt by a situation, and sometimes he helps me feel compassion and see the "other side."
He is the guy that sees the positive when I don't.
He is the guy who has a plan when I'm feeling stuck.

He is the guy that tries his best and makes sure it's enough.
He is the first to apologize.
He is the reason we've been at this twenty years strong... 
He is and will always be, my better half.

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P.S. Only a few more days until my shop reopens.   It's going to be open for SIX days only!!  I open on the 23rd!  Yippeee!! 

Saturday, November 14, 2015


  The other day I sat in a coffee shop with my girlfriend and we commiserated on our desire to stop all the pre-thanksgiving Christmas overdrive.  (We blame the violent blast of cinnamon scented air as we enter all craft and home improvement stores. It flips some kind of instinct in me that makes me want to run.)  True story, I actually walked into Pier 1 the other day looking for simple white cloth napkins for Thanksgiving (harder to find than you might think) and walked immediately back out.  Christmas and Thanksgiving decor were competing so hard, that there was hardly room to walk around and the whole place felt too much of an overwhelming thing.  I couldn't do it. A little overlap is fine and totally acceptable... but it's getting to be too much out there!

Then my girlfriend and I laughed, because we both sounded like old grinchy ladies.. and then I realized that maybe it was just because we might only have five or six more total Thanksgivings with things "as they are".... and then I wanted to cry because well...I only have five more Thanksgivings (INCLUDING THIS ONE) until my boy is in college... wahaaaaa!

I can't even.

So I planted my paper white bulbs and shot some pretty pics in the soft morning light.  I enjoyed the peace of the quiet morning while a very tall boy clad in flannel pajamas, ate a huge bowl of cereal at the same counter that he once wasn't tall enough to see over. And I didn't dwell.  I just savored.  Because it's precious and I want to do my best at savoring right now.   

On a side note, my 50mm lens stopped working when Adrain and I went to Mexico last spring.  I was so upset over it, that I hadn't really used my camera since. The 50mm is my favorite lens and takes the best photos with the best light. I never felt very inspired with the big, huge lens on the camera.  It wasn't the same.  Well, anyway, a few weeks ago I dug it out of my camera bag, cleaned it really well and prayed over it and it worked!  I nearly cried.  I was so thrilled that I've been photographing life up a storm again so be warned... image overload coming this way again. Ha! (I think I'll savor that too.)

Before I go, (and at the risk of bringing up too much Christmas before Thanksgiving... hahaha!) I wanted to say that after much encouragement from you guys, tons of discussions and prayers on my part, I have decided to do (hopefully) quarterly one week pop up shops for my Etsy shop over the course of the next year! I will hopefully have a few new items each opening and a week seems to be about all I can handle with my limited time.  So.... I have one more week-long pop up shop coming on November 23 and I would LOVE to have you stop by! 

I will be selling all the old favorite prints you've probably seen, along with these four brand new pieces, just in time for holiday gift giving or home decorating! (I am seriously so in love with them I can't even stand it.) So be thinking of that, and as always YOU guys are the reason I can do this, and I love you all to pieces!!  Without you, I'd have no shop.  

Okay, I'm doing something amazing with 60 lemons in my kitchen right now so I can't chat anymore...  but, it smells like heaven in here!!  You'll have to wait and see what I'm doing.  It's going to be goooood!


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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

To all the Extroverts...

There are a ton of AMAZING articles and stories on introverts out there to be read.  Articles on how introverts tick, what makes them cringe and feel comfortable, essays on how to parent them, how to befriend them, how to employ them, and insight into their souls.  I've read my fair share of them over the years, being a spouse, friend and parent of introverts, and I have learned things from those articles and essays that I would never have understood on my own. 

This is not one of those.

This is my heart on a platter, to all the fellow extroverts reading.  If you happen to be an introvert, you can read this the way we extroverts read things about you, privacy loving, solace-seeking introverts- as insight into those opposite hearts and personalities, as a way to better love and understand us crazy people who put it all out there with seeming ease.  Us live-out-loud, tell it like it  is, keep nothing private, gregarious and social loving people in your world. 

As often happens, various events in my world have given me over to some deep thoughts.  Over the years, unintentional hurts from a few loved individuals in my life have caused me to pause and consider my life and boundaries (or lack thereof).  I've come up with some Extrovert-introvert aha-moments that I feel are VERY timely, before this holiday season hits and we're all thrown into many more social situations with both friends and family members.  My hope is not to point nasty fingers at introverts, but rather encourage both types of people.  If any of us leave encouraged, then God will have used these hurts for good and I do believe that's always the end goal.

It has occurred to me upon reflection, that I am on close terms in life, with far more introverted people than extroverts.  I'm not sure why that is.  I must be drawn to their outward calm or quiet and wise ponderings.  Regardless, I seem to have a deep affection for them and collect them to myself like the dear treasures that they are.  We are often attracted to our opposite.  One thing I have observed by being married, loved by, and befriended by introverts, is that besides the fact that they need space away from everyone from time to time, they are also much more private.  And that, is where we begin...

Extroverts (speaking personally as one) tend to say what they think, mean and feel, with no walls or pretending.  We also tend to love gathering with our people, in any way possible, because we recharge from their company and really can't get enough.  We love putting it all out there and will generally give a relationship all that we've got, in order to please others no matter the cost, because we live out loud in the moment, as real as we can be, no privacy needed, thankyou-very-much. 

As I thought about it, I noticed that the introverts in my acquaintance seemed to be... well, opposite of that in many ways.  And we love them for that.  The truth is this; (with some exceptions of course) introverts in general, hold more back and keep more private. Extroverts in general, hold less back and keep less private.  This give-and-take balance can often feel...  crazy unbalanced on one side, and we can both guess which side tends to feel the unbalance more deeply.  I have personally felt as though I am giving more, sharing more of myself, offering more and such, and whether or not that is accurate, the reasons I tend to feel that way are that I'm butting those feelings against individuals who are wired to give less, with more walls and privacy barriers up, offer less for reasons that are important to them, and share way less of themselves because they can not do otherwise.  In fact, (according to a few of my introverted peeps) it feels unnatural for them to do otherwise.  Which is where boundaries come in.  If you are an extrovert who is currently inviting, asking, planning, sharing and giving your whole heart and all you've got to a relationship continually and feeling like you're doing the majority of the vulnerability and pursuing/planning of things.... STOP.  Because if you don't, something bad happens.  It's called relationship burnout. When I was dating, my dad explained it like this;  There is always movement in every relationship.  When one person is moving forward, the other steps back and if you keep moving forward toward that person, they will only have one direction to go- back, back, back... and you'll end up chasing them.  Conversely, if you stop and take a step back occasionally, you give the other party some space to move toward you on occasion and that's healthy for BOTH people. 

I had some time to pray over a few unbalanced relationships in my life lately.  I wasn't even aware of the unbalances until recently.  I was simply aware of my own heart heaviness and couldn't place the reasons.  I realized that I haven't had healthy boundaries in some areas, for ages. I have a tendency to bend over backwards and people please.  I make things work for others when it really doesn't work for my family and I always explain my NO's (far too much) and then I feel crazy guilt when I do say no. I notice that the majority of introverts in my life have boundaries (they can feel like walls if I'm in a negative mindset) and say no with few or no explanations. This has caused me many hurt feelings in life to this point, but I think that's because I don't do that with them, hence an area of unbalance.  We often expect the same level from others that we give to them and we've got to make sure that if someone in life is giving to a certain level, we're not constantly exceeding that by leaps and bounds.  I have a new relationship perspective as of late after this heart burnout.  The introverts in my life might wonder what is happening to me, (they also might not, but regardless they'll probably keep it to themselves either way) (ha!) (little introvert joke there.) and wonder why I'm not planning all our events and holidays or verbally sharing every detail with them, but it might actually give them an opportunity to participate in that balance our relationship is lacking. My introverted husband has really encouraged me in this area because whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, relationships take massive amounts of work and require balance and understanding on both sides. In the end, after all that work, people are so worth it. 

So how about you?  Are your relationships balanced right now?  As you prepare for holiday madness and many social settings, do you need to take a step back and re-evalulate what and how you give in your relationships? 

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”- C.S. Lewis

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thanksgiving, the holiday!

Happy Thursday sweet friends. (It is Thursday, right?  I'm not certain if I am coming or going this week.)  It's been a blur of commitments and events and wrapping up soccer and track and all the awards banquets that go with that.  I'm amazed at how each new stage of motherhood is busier than the last, yet increasingly more and more enjoyable!  Yesterday after work, my coworker, (and dear friend) Kristin and I, sat in our beloved boss's car after a job and soaked up her mom wisdom and encouragement.  It's amazing how God puts people in our lives that are a few stages ahead of us and can be that breath of fresh air. 

That said, one of those sources for me has always been Family Life Today.  I've shared before about how I used to tune in to the radio program they put together daily, when my kiddos were small.  It aired about the time I was putting little lunches together and getting bibs tied on and settling pre-nap crankies.  I always loved when Barbara Rainey would guest host because she had raised a large family and lived to tell the story. (I wanted her to adopt me as her little sister because I always felt like I could do this motherhood thing, after her calm voice and encouraging perspective.)  My very favorite broadcast was the one where she spoke about Thanksgiving.  I remember hearing her speak about how precious this season is and how it gets so crowded out by Christmas preparations.  She had written a book called Thanksgiving, a Time to Remember and I immediately purchased it.  For years, we have read it together as a family.  You can read the whole book aloud, or the larger text parts if you need it to be shorter.  It's full of history and amazing stories and always makes me cry.  We've even highlighted the parts we love! 

Then a year ago, I discovered the Ever Thine Home line of decor and I've been hooked ever since.  Along with being beautiful, they are encouraging.  Oh how we need that in this life! There are so many interactive parenting materials that can be used with any ages of children during various holidays, and I feel like a sponge, trying to soak up all of the ideas that Barbara has taken the time to write in the instructions that come with these materials.  So many good ideas, and best of all, she is a mom who gets it.  Sometimes people cooperate, and sometimes they don't.  You have to go with the flow and be flexible and make it work- and not overwhelm yourself before you get started!  She gives realistic and do-able ideas, but best of all she really encourages us mamas to help our men lead, put in the time it takes to teach our children and do our best because it matters. 

I bought these conversation napkin ties last Thanksgiving for my table, (along with these Christmas tree crown ornaments) and people... they are just the best.   New to my little family this year, is the Gathered Round wreath and the Written and Remembered booklet.  The Gathered Round wreath is perfect for tucking your thankful notes into, and comes with the loveliest little cards that can even be used as place cards at your thanksgiving table! (It also comes with a stand (not pictured) and the removable chalkboard center, chalk and a "forget not" sign that can also be used in the center.)  Barbara has included a booklet with a TON of amazing ideas for it's year-round use- such as using it for Christmas photos, or birthday parties or a housewarming gift with recipes tucked into the wreath.  The ideas are endless.  The Written and Remembered book is filled uplifting stories to read with your families in November and then turn inward as you reflect on your own blessings and record them on the adorable post cards. (You can find these beautiful items and so many more, here.)

I struggle to sometimes be still and fully appreciate the season of Thanksgiving myself, with all of the mental preparations for Christmas crowding into my thoughts. I recently found a little plate with the simple word, "Savor" on it, at a local shop. I clutched it and hugged it to my heart. (Yes, I am that weirdo shopper.) I knew that this was my word for the holiday season.  I truly believe we are meant to savor our moments! 

We aren't sure who is hosting our family gathering, as there is a precious and very anticipated baby boy being born to my brother and his sweet wife, due on Thanksgiving day.  For that reason alone, I am looking so forward to this holiday no matter where or how it is celebrated... and looking to savor it.  I'm not sure if you struggle to be in the moment as well but let's encourage one another to be fully present in the season of Thanksgiving despite all of the early Christmas decor going up in stores, and soak up all it's goodness while it's here. Thank you Ever Thine Home, for helping us with this endeavor, and encouraging us as we lead our families. 

 Let's savor it my friends...
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